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Security guard charged with beating man to death at Park Manor liquor store

"Wine and Sprits" store at 308 E. 75th St. | Google Maps

A security guard accused of beating a man to death last month over a stolen bottle of liquor at a Park Manor neighborhood store was denied bail Tuesday.

Christopher Emmons, 57, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 33-year-old Herbert Lemon, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Lemon was severely beaten by Emmons June 12 inside the liquor store at 308 E. 75th St. and died two days later, Assistant State’s Attorney Maurice Alayo said Tuesday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

The beating happened about 1:20 p.m, according to Chicago Police.

Emmons recognized Lemon from surveillance video recorded the day before that showed Lemon stealing the bottle and followed him into the store, Alayo said. Once inside, surveillance video recorded Emmons lock the door and put on a pair of gloves. When Lemon walked up to the counter with a bottle of beer, Emmons punched him twice in the face without warning, Alayo said.

Security cameras that recorded audio and video of the incident revealed that neither Lemon nor Emmons spoke before the punches were thrown, prosecutors said. Emmons pulled Lemon deeper into the store and continued to beat Lemon even after he fell to the ground. He then lifted him to his feet and a second person punched Lemon in the face at least twice, Alayo said.

Chicago Police officers arrived, but Lemon declined to press charges on Emmons, Alayo said. Lemon was later found unresponsive in his house by his girlfriend. He was taken to a hospital and underwent brain surgery, but showed no brain activity after the operation. He was taken off life support and died June 14.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a homicide from multiple head injuries suffered in an assault.

Christopher Emmons | Chicago Police
Christopher Emmons | Chicago Police

A man who answered the phone Tuesday afternoon at A&S Wine and Sprits and identified himself as a manager said that Emmons was not scheduled to work the day of the incident.

“It’s unfortunate — the accident — what happened,” the manager said. “Our condolences go out to the man’s family.”

The manager described Emmons as a good employee, but declined to say how long he had worked as a security guard at the store. He said Emmons had not been fired.

Emmons previously served 23 years in prison on a murder charge and has other convictions for arson and unlawful use of a weapon, Alayo said.

“I have seen the video, and to say nothing was said is inaccurate,” Emmons’ defense attorney said in court Tuesday. The attorney claimed Lemon had shouted for a witness in the store to shoot Emmons.

“Did [Lemon] ever hit him?” Judge John F. Lyke Jr. asked Emmons’ attorney.

Lyke repeated the question several times when Emmons’ attorney did not answer the question to the judge’s satisfaction.

“I believe he did,” Emmon’s attorney replied eventually.

Lyke asked Alayo if he had seen the surveillance video.

“I have not,” Alayo said.

Lyke ordered Emmons held without bail, citing his previous convictions.

“A man lost his life over a bottle of beer,” Lyke said, shaking his head.

Emmons, who lives in the Fernwood neighborhood, was scheduled to return to court July 23.